A Charleswood elementary school teacher received a special surprise last week.
Kathy Dudych, a Grade 1 teacher at Beaverlodge Elementary school in Pembina Trails School Division, was awarded a Grand & Toy’s A Day Made Better award at a school assembly on Oct. 2.
Dudych was one of 17 winners from across Canada who were chosen from among 69 nominees.
The award program, which is in its fourth year, is sponsored by Grand & Toy and recognizes teachers who provide special treatment to students, parents or their colleagues. Teachers are selected through a nomination process involving submissions from students, parents or colleagues, which are then reviewed by a selection committee.
Grand & Toy presents winning teachers with a massive box containing $1,500 worth of classroom supplies.
Brenda Reid nominated Dudych for the award after reading about one of last year’s winners in a newspaper article.
"(Dudych) taught our daughter for two years. She’s just really special. She changes the learning based on the kids’ needs and skills, and turns math, reading and every day activities into something fun," she said.
Reid said Dudych’s involvement with her eight-year-old daughter, Abby, really stood out.
"Abby’s been Type 1 diabetic since she was two-years-old, and last year was a really hard year for us. (Dudych) just went above and beyond. She fundraised and came to the hospital (to visit) and worked with us," Reid said.
"It was just really important to recognize her any way we could. It’s very exciting to see her win."
The award was kept secret from most of the school’s staff until the assembly. During the event, Grand & Toy employees emerged from the gymnasium’s equipment storage room to surprise Dudych.
"It’s overwhelming, it’s a surprise," Dudych said.
"Working with Abby and the Reid family, I just did every day what I needed to do. They tell me all the time how much they appreciate it. (This) is just one other way they’re always going above and beyond (to show) me how much they appreciate it," the Charleswood resident said.
Beaverlodge principal Lorraine Compayre said everyone at the school was excited about Dudych receiving the award.
"It’s exciting for a parent to say the work (Dudych) does is that significant and important to their child and family that they (want) to see her recognized in a public way," Compayre said.
"We often get those little thank you notes, but to have something done in such a public way and to have one of our teachers acknowledged is just so affirming."
In addition to the Grand & Toy award, Dudych also won a second place award from Learning for Sustainable Futures, a national program which recognizes teachers for their commitment to environmental stewardship.
Dudych was only one of three Canadians to receive the award, and was selected through the same nomination process as the A Day Made Better program. She received a certificate and a cheque for $250 to initiate sustainability programs in her classroom.
There are 33 schools in Pembina Trails School Division, many of them in Waverley Heights, Fort Richmond, Fort Garry, and other south end neighbourhoods.
For more information on A Day Made Better, go to grandandtoy.com/betterday.